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Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen
The Amazing World of Gumball: After School Special by Ben Boquelet
Anna's Corn by Barbara Santucci
The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn
The Better Country by Dallas Lore Sharp
Boy Dumplings by Ying Chang Compestine
Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates
California by Edan Lepucki
Camera and Lens by Ansel Adams
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Over the Moon by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Cleopatra in Space: The Thief and the Sword by Mike Maihack
Draw! by Raúl Colón
Giant Days, Volume 3 by John Allison, Max Sarin, and Whitney Cogar
Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord
I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang
Jem and the Holograms, Volume 2: Viral by Kelly Thompson
A List of Cages by Robin Roe
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
Scarecrow Magic by Ed Masessa
The 78-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Tagged by Diane C. Mullen
This Land I Love: Waterloo County by Carl Hiebert
Waiting is Not Easy! by Mo Willems
Witches' Bane by Susan Wittig Albert
XO, OX: A Love Story by Adam Rex

Miscellaneous
Armchair BEA introductions
April 2017 Inclusive Reading Report
Best Practices
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 01)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 08)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 15)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 22)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 29)
Mapping the roads of the American nightmare
Read Our Own Books - April 2017

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Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



California: 05/28/17

California  by Edan Lepucki

California by Edan Lepucki is a near future dystopian novel set probably in Southern California — though the exact location is never specified. It's apparent location is guessable by the places left behind (Los Angeles, for example).

The title isn't so much about the state (or what's left of it) but of Calvin "California" and his wife Frida. Or if you're reading this in terms of another dystopian survival story, Lord of the Flies, Cal and Frida can be seen like Sam and Eric and become one character, Calandfrida or if you squint, California.

Besides being like Lord of the Flies, the novel reminds me of a thematic cross between the 1987 film, Cherry 2000 (for the defunct Southern California setting) and the song "(Nothing but) Flowers" by the Talking Heads.

California, though a recent novel conforms with the sort of road narratives I was first exploring in 1995. In the 1970s-1980s, many post apocalyptic road stories had their second act set in or end at a vehicle graveyard. The story usually involved a hero either on a quest for some lost piece of tech or a heroine in flight from some villain and the solution to their problems — whether it was the location of the lost tech or a place to hide and learn self defense — was in one of these junkyards. Now the weirdest examples of this trope is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film from 1992 where Buffy first comes in contact with the vampires and her powers as a slayer amongst the Rose Parade floats.

For California the graveyard is described as a parking lot and a hotel surrounded by spikes — some made to look like trees and others made to look more threatening, like an obvious "do not enter." The edge of this property is also marked by a school bus in remarkably good repair. While the extended second act of this book takes place within the confines of this old hotel and grounds, the trope dictates that Cal and Frida are merely sojourning there.

An engaging dystopian, such as California or The Fog Diver will give enough hints to say where the story is taking place. Although the blurb for this book says that Cal and Frida have left Los Angeles "far behind them," anyone who knows present day Los Angeles knows its scale and how difficult that would be as society crumbles.

The descriptions, though, of the hotel and surrounds are vague enough to not give a definitive location. Originally I pegged somewhere like Hemet or Big Bear but later I narrowed my focus to Los Angeles itself, namely to Watts and the Watts Towers Arts Center. The oldest spires — besides the one that sounds like a defunct tree shaped cell phone tower, are described as being artistic creations, rather than defensive ones. The original name of the towers is "Nuestro pueblo," or "our town" descriptive of the community that Cal and Frida find.

Regardless of where the majority of the novel is set, it's an interesting cautionary tale of how various stresses on society could bring the crumbling end of the cities we now know. It's not a single event — rather a series of bad storms across the country, a new Great Depression — one that can no longer support Hollywood and the California university systems. It's a really bad time when even Hollywood has to pack up shop — given that they've historically been able to ride out depressions and recessions.

It's also not a dystopian where the entire world goes quiet. We are left out of the loop for most of the book because the main characters have elected to go off grid (or what remains of it). In the third act when the chose to return to society we do get a brief glimpse of what it has become — or rather what the privileged end of society has become.

Five stars

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Comment #1: Monday, May 29, 2017 at 09:42:09

Laurel-Rain Snow

I have this one on my Kindle and moved it forward after reading the author's newest book, Woman No. 17. Sounds good...thanks for sharing.



Comment #2: Monday, May 29, 2017 at 10:30:00

Pussreboots

Likewise, I plan to read Woman No. 17 — although after I read through the other new releases I have on hand.